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Re: newspaper and - or straw

FWIW, Kitty, I have always found newspaper takes some time to
disintegrate - same with straw.  Secret with straw seems to be
keeping it really wet and like leaves, that's not so easily done. 
Think it may be something to do with the shiny, rather smooth surface
to straws - sort of like dry leaf surfaces; water will roll off of
it.  Even shredded, I'd think it would have to be good and sopping
all the way through and not allowed to dry at all to rot.

I have (more years than I want to admit) piled up the stems from
Miscanthus that I cut down on my concrete slab and had them pretty
well rotted by the end of the year, but they aren't as thick as real
straw stems.  

I've used straw bales as temporary cold frames and been able to keep
the same ones for more than a couple of years with only the bottom
rotting, which gives you an idea how long straw can go before it
rots!  If you cover a bale of straw sitting on the ground with
plastic, that bale will last for up to 4 years or more.  People make
houses out of straw bales covered in adobe:-)

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
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> From: Kitty <kmrsy@comcast.net>
> Jesse and Pam,
> I don't recall exactly how thick my newspapers were, but probably
about a
> half inch.  And you can still read it very clearly.  I guess when
> said you could plant directly in it almost immediately I expected
it to
> break down more quickly. As to the straw, I thought since I
shredded it, it
> too would break down more quickly.  And, yes, I have plenty of

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